8 June 2024

Your vote matters!

Captain John Clifton

A photo shows a sign that reads: polling station.

Ahead of the UK general election on 4 July, Captain John Clifton encourages people to vote.

‘Have you registered to vote?’ I asked one of the dads at Blackpool Citadel’s Messy Church before the by-election in May. He laughed. ‘No way. Never voted, never will!’ I was taken aback. The by-election in our constituency – Blackpool South – ended with a low voter turnout.

It took many years and the hard work of many people to ensure universal suffrage, or voting rights, in the UK. Today, UK, Irish, and some Commonwealth citizens of any race, gender or religion can cast their vote in a general election, thanks to pioneers such as the Suffragettes, Suffragists and Chartists. The Salvation Army has long been part of this proud tradition, supporting the Suffrage Movement’s call for votes for women and the early movement that pushed for a more representative House of Commons.

In My Own Story, Emmeline Pankhurst wrote of how the Suffragettes took inspiration from the Army’s boldness and passion: ‘We adopted Salvation Army methods and went out into the highways and the byways after converts... Just as the Booths and their followers took religion to the street crowds ... we took suffrage to the general public.’

When anyone casts a vote in a general election, they are voting for the individual or party they believe will best represent them and will, potentially, govern the country. As citizens of the UK, voting is an important part of civic duty – and, as Christians, it’s an expression of our faith.

We believe that everyone is created in God’s image and therefore deserving of respect and value. That is why everyone who has a vote should be able to use it: everyone is important and should have their voice heard.

When we vote we also put this belief into practice by seeking to improve our communities and country so that everyone is able to flourish. While we might have different ideas or views on exactly how things might be made better, as Christians we seek justice and equal access to opportunities for everyone. Voting is therefore an expression of loving our neighbour (see Mark 12:31), as we put the needs of our communities ahead of ourselves.

Ahead of the general election, The Salvation Army is working with Citizens UK on a campaign to ensure everyone who can vote is able to do so. And it’s urgent. To vote on 4 July, people need to register by 18 June. They also need to know the requirements: for the first time in a UK general election, anyone voting at a polling station will need to show an accepted form of photo ID.

The Public Affairs Unit has created resources, including posters and leaflets, for corps and centres to encourage voter registration and raise awareness of voting requirements. These resources are available now at salvationist.org.uk/pau.

While The Salvation Army is strictly non-partisan and does not endorse or support any individual candidate or party, we do encourage people to participate and get involved. Every aspect of life should be influenced by our faith – even, and perhaps especially, politics.

After discussing all this with the Messy Church dad, he said he would give it some thought. I hope you will too!

Reflect and respond

Written by

A photo of John Clifton.

Captain John Clifton

Territorial Justice and Reconciliation Officer

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